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How to Grow Stokes’ Aster — Stokesia

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 Stokesia — commonly called Stokes’ aster–bears cornflower or asterlike flowers from midsummer to early fall. The long-lasting, colorful, terminal flowerheads are solitary or produced in many-flowered corymbs. Flowers are good as cut flowers.

Each Stokesia blossom has a central button of small flowers, surrounded by a ring of larger ones. Flowerheads can be blue, purplish blue, or white.

Plant Stokesia in a warm position in a herbaceous border or grow Stokesia in pots.

Stokesia is a rugged and adaptable plant. It is native to the southeastern United States. There is just one species in the genus.

 Stokesia laevis
Stokesia laevis

Get to know Stokesia 

  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 5 to 9 
  • Hardiness: Hardy to -20°F (-29°C)
  • Height and width: 18-24 inches (45.7-61cm) tall and 18 inches (45.7cm) wide 
  • Foliage: Much branched with stiff, erect stems 1.5-2 feet (.5-.6m) high. Rosettes of smooth, rounded, firm-textured, medium green leaves, 2-8 inches (5.1-20.3cm) long, sometimes toothed at the base, evergreen (to semi-evergreen in cold climates). Leafy, curved, finely toothed bracts surround tight flower buds. 
  • Flowers: 3-4 inches (7.6-10.2cm) cornflower type blooms that are light blue-, pink-, or white-flowers. Each blossom has a central button of small flowers surrounded by a ring of larger ones. Long-lasting cut flower.  
  • Bloom time: Midsummer to fall. 
  • Uses: Front border, good in pots, make long-lasting cut flowers, and attract butterflies.  
  • Garden companions: ‘Silver Brocade’ beach wormwood (Artemisia stelleriana) ‘Silver Brocade’) 
  • Common name: Stokes’ aster
  • Botanical name: Stokesia 
  • Family name: Asteraceae
  • Origin: Southeastern United States

Where to plant Stokesia 

  • Plant Stokesia in full sun.  
  • Plant Stokesia in deep, light, moist, well-drained, fertile, slightly acidic soil.  
  • Poorly drained soil leads to crown rot or death.  

Stokesia uses and companions

  • Plant Stokesia in groups in the foreground of informal flower gardens.
  • Stokesia are good for cutting.
  • Good garden companions for Stokesia include Achillea, Coreopsis, Lychnis coronaria, Oenothera, Salvia, Stachys lanata.

When to plant Stokesia 

  • Plant Stokesia seed in fall or early spring and it will bloom the first year. 
  • Set container-grown Stokesia in the garden in spring or autumn.
Stokes aster - botanical name - Stokesia laevis
Stokes aster – botanical name – Stokesia laevis

Planting and spacing Stokesia 

  • Stokesia plants generally require staking.  

How to water and feed Stokesia 

  • Give Stokesia regular water.  
  • Fertilize Stokesia with an all-purpose organic fertilizer in spring.

How to care for Stokesia 

  • Provide winter cover for Stokesia of evergreen boughs or straw in coldest regions.  
  • Deadheading Stokesia encourages plants to rebloom.  

Stokesia pests and diseases 

  • Stokesia can develop leaf spot.  
  • Stokesia is susceptible to attack by caterpillars.  

Stokesia propagation 

  • Stokesia seeds germinate in 14 to 35 days at 70°F (21°C).
  • Divide Stokesia cultivars in spring.  
  • Propagate by dividing Stokesia clumps in spring or fall.
  • Propagate by root cuttings taken in late winter or early spring.  

Stokesia varieties to grow 

  • Stokesia laevis, Stokes’ Aster, A 1-2 feet (.3-.6m) tall species that form 1.5 foot (.5m) wide clumps. Bears 2-3 inches (5.1-7.6cm) wide flower heads with two rows of fringed ray florets, or “petals”, around fuzzy centers of disk florets. Flowers come in shades of violet-blue, pink, and white.  
  • Alba’ and ‘Silver Moon’, both white.  
  • ‘Bluestone’, medium blue, 10 inches (25.4cm) high, medium blue.  
  • ‘Blue Danube’, with large lavender-blue blooms over a long season. 12-15 inches (30.5-38.1cm) tall. Long bloom season, extending into winter in mildest climates.  
  • ‘Honeysong Purple’, with dark purple blooms on 1 foot (.3m) stems.  
  • ‘Klaus Jelitto’, light blue.  
  • ‘Omega Skyrocket’, with large blue flowers on 2-3 feet (.6-.9m) stems.  
  • ‘Silver Moon’, white.  
  • ‘Wyoming’, deep purple.  

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. Harvesttotable.com has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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